5 Things to Watch in Packers vs Bears: Can Green Bay Cope Without Bakhtiari?

Green Bay's offensive line will be compromised against the Chicago Bears this week.

How will the Packers cope without David Bakhtiari?

To add another layer of weird to what has been one of the stranger seasons in Green Bay, left tackle Bakhtiari will miss Sunday’s game after having an appendectomy.

While his knee health still appears to be a week-to-week situation, Bakhtiari has retaken his place on among the NFL’s best tackles since his return, and he’ll be greatly missed on Sunday.

Bakhtiari’s absence means the Packers will have to once again shuffle an offensive line which had finally achieved some continuity in recent weeks, and they have various options.

If they want to leave the rest of the offensive line alone, they could decide to plug Zach Tom in at left tackle, but that would be placing a great deal of trust in the rookie.

Yosh Nijman and Elgton Jenkins could move from their respective spots at right tackle and left guard to fill Bakhtiari’s role, with Royce Newman potentially returning to the line-up at either guard or right tackle in that scenario.

After going out of their way to jettison most of their talent, the Bears aren’t the most fearsome defense, but with Bakhtiari out, the Packers may still be vulnerable up front.

How healthy is Aaron Rodgers?

Rodgers looked broken as he trudged off the field in Philadelphia last Sunday, but despite his respective thumb and rib injuries, he’ll suit up this week.

Being healthy enough to play and being healthy enough to play well are different things, and it may be a compromised version of Aaron Rodgers taking the field.

But while he may be banged up, don’t bet against Rodgers flicking the switch and entering ‘Own the Bears’ mode at Soldier Field.

Will Romeo Doubs return?

Both Doubs and Christian Watson have flashed serious potential during their rookie seasons, but unfortunately for the Packers, they haven’t really done it at the same time.

Doubs has been out with a high ankle sprain during Watson’s breakout, but has a chance to return this week, with the receiver listed as ‘Questionable’ on the final injury report.

Whether it be this week or later in the season, getting a look at Doubs and Watson together could offer an exciting glimpse at the future of Green Bay’s receiving corps.

Green Bay’s defense vs a running quarterback

The Packers were embarrassed on defense last week by Jalen Hurts and his running ability. They will be put to the test again in that regard as they face Justin Fields this time around.

Fields doesn’t offer quite the same double-threat as Hurts, since he’s still unpolished as a passer, and he also doesn’t have the weapons around him that Hurts does.

With that in mind, the Packers should be able to focus more attention on stopping Fields from beating them with his legs, but it’s still fair to question whether Joe Barry’s unit is up to the task.

Keisean Nixon

The Packers appear to have found a returner. Keisean Nixon had several impressive returns against the Eagles and should keep the role for the foreseeable future.

When asked a few weeks back whether he has to think about ball security when returning kicks, Nixon said: “No. If you think about it, you’re gonna fumble”.

Nixon has no fear of making a mistake, and only thinks about making a big play. That’s the kind of mentality returners must have. His returns are chaotic but at least they provide the potential for something special.

He has also become a valuable member of Green Bay’s defense and unlike far too many players on that unit, plays at full speed. Nixon has been one of this season’s pleasant surprises.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

3 points

Comments (20)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PackyCheese500's picture

December 03, 2022 at 03:15 pm

I hope Zach Tom will gets the start in Bakh's absence. He has shown great promise, and with adding a bit more strength, could become a great Tackle. The Packers should place faith in Tom. Also because Newman would be the alternative

The Packers should make sure they lock up Nixon for the next few years. He would be cheap, he looks finally to be a solution at returner, and is a very good backup

If Rodgers isn't healthy enough, play Love. We should be playing Love anyway, and we have nothing to lose from doing so. We also don't want to risk Rodgers suffering a more serious, long-term injury.

8 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 03, 2022 at 04:42 pm

Why wouldn’t Tom start at LT? We did that last time and he held up pretty well. I don’t see any reason to mess Nijman or Jenkins around again.

10 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

December 03, 2022 at 07:18 pm

I don't either, but let's not jinx the Coaching Staff....

3 points
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Tundraboy's picture

December 03, 2022 at 09:26 pm

Exactly. Why reshuffle more than you have to. Are these coaches complete idiots? This is what drives me crazy. The line has been a struggle this year and when there finally is a semblance of continuity they need to outthink everything. Or as I fear, yet again this week.

2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

December 04, 2022 at 03:09 am

"Are these coaches complete idiots?"

You know my answer!

0 points
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PhantomII's picture

December 03, 2022 at 03:30 pm

Zach Tom for me and possibly a little TE chipping in on pass plays. I believe he is the future at LT as well as Nijman at RT. Jenkins I would like back, but he has not been 100% yet. We will need more depth for the draft...again.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 03, 2022 at 04:45 pm

I wouldn’t mind seeing Walker get a run at RT at some point in a game at some point, but at this point the least upheaval the better and Tom earned it last time he started there while Nijman is just getting in a groove at RT.

5 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

December 03, 2022 at 07:20 pm

Me too! They have the potential to be a top tackle duo if Tom can add some muscle in the offseason and if Nijman can reduce the number of Holding penalties he draws

Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones, I think, have the potential to be excellent backup Tackles. Caleb Jones could even be like a gadget player - a Fullback in short-yardage situations, a Tight end in red-zone plays, or even a FG blocker. Lots of fun potential to explore

2 points
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Tundraboy's picture

December 03, 2022 at 09:30 pm

"Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones, I think, have the potential to be excellent backup Tackles. Caleb Jones could even be like a gadget player - a Fullback in short-yardage situations, a Tight end in red-zone plays, or even a FG blocker. Lots of fun potential to explore"

Yes ! That is my hope. Just wonder if anyone on the staff sees it that way.

2 points
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cheesehead1's picture

December 03, 2022 at 04:17 pm

I would just like for our defense to show up, period. Absolutely pathetic how this hyped up D has performed. Barry is the leader and his unit has obviously been terrible so far. One coach I never hear mentioned very often is DB guru Jerry Gray. How much input does he have in Barry’s so called defense? I don’t think there will be any changes this late in the season, but I’ll shocked if they return next season, especially Barry. As always, win or lose, GPG.

6 points
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BruceC1960's picture

December 03, 2022 at 08:12 pm

This will be a great opportunity for Quay Walker to redeem himself against a running QB. I would like to think he can. If he fails again, we have a problem.

3 points
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Mr_Bill_H's picture

December 03, 2022 at 05:27 pm

The Bahk situation has had a huge impact in the last 3 seasons. Wish him well in his recovery

5 points
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splitpea1's picture

December 03, 2022 at 06:02 pm

On paper, the Packers should win this game easily, as the Bears will be without a starting OT (on a line that is already suspect), a starting WR, and two starting DBs. No excuse for the Packers to lose this game no matter who plays QB. "Owning the Bears" might have some relevance if Love was to start, but otherwise, no--just two bad teams struggling to stay out of the basement.

By the way, let's see if Rodgers can come close to the performance of Mike White and his "paltry" $2.54 million-dollar salary.

4 points
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fangirl's picture

December 03, 2022 at 07:49 pm

If the O-line crumbles and the Defense can't tackle Fields, that is not on Rodgers.

If Bahk had a straightforward laparoscopic appendectomy, he should be able to return in 3-5 weeks.

2 points
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MainePackFan's picture

December 03, 2022 at 08:24 pm

I think they will either insert Tom in at LT or slide Jenkins to LT and put Tom at LG. I believe it would be a bad idea to mess with the right side. if the Packers think Runyan is the RG, and Yosh is their RT for the future, then this is the time to make that statement. The less they have to shuffle players around the better.

I hope Doubs is ready to go. I am looking forward to seeing these two on the field and healthy at the same time.

Needless to say. this defense is a heck of a lot better with a healthy Dre and Gary. Not great, but certainly better. No doubt that they are missing Gary's pressure on the QB and Dre's leadership.

I see one of two scenarios regarding the QB "controversy ".

1) ARod goes off for 4TD's and 300 yds. passing

) ARod gets hurt and the legend of Jordan Love is born :)

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 03, 2022 at 10:25 pm

It wouldn’t surprise me if the star is Jones. Given a chance. We are perfectly capable if out running CHICAGO if we give ourselves the chance (one reason why this would have been a good game to work Love in).

5 points
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MainePackFan's picture

December 04, 2022 at 05:41 am

I agree CW. A steady dose of Jones (and Dillon) would make sense. I think the Pack can put up 30pts against this Bears team. Hopefully the D shows a little pride . It's a shame that Bahk is out. I feel like the O line was finally starting to develop some continuity.

1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

December 03, 2022 at 08:31 pm

The future is now.

2 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

December 03, 2022 at 09:44 pm

Believe it was the last game of the season of 2019 the Packers were out of the playoffs with a losing record (6-9 &1) and were playing Detroit, which they lost 31 to 0. Rodgers shouldn't have even been playing that game but of course he played and received an unnecessary concussion. I srr no upside and really see only negatives with him playing against Chicago.

3 points
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ricky's picture

December 03, 2022 at 10:22 pm

The Packers are going to be permanently without Bakhtiari in the near future. Whether it's two or three years, they need to find a replacement ASAP. Because football is a game of replacing players who, for whatever reason, are not doing the job, and finding players who can do the job.
As far as Rodgers, I'm less worried about his physical health, and more concerned about his state of mind. Will he rely on the running game to wear down the Bears defense? Will he make shorter, high percentage passes to move the chains and keep the Bears defense on the field (and the Packers defense on the sidelines)? Or will he see this as another opportunity for him to "own the Bears" by throwing long passes, thereby holding onto the ball longer, and risking getting hit by Bears players with revenge on their minds?
As to Doubs, is there some reason to rush him back onto the field? Why not give him a couple of more weeks to heal properly? Because the team still has a chance to make the playoffs?
Finally, the chances of a Barry designed defense actually being effective are becoming more laughable each game. Why are players regressing? Could it be they're giving up, knowing that the DC is not capable of either coaching or designing defensive schemes to help them succeed? And, finally, we have Nixon. Sure, for the time being, "Nixon's the One". And I heard this from an unimpeachable source.

3 points
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